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Mozart’s 'Figaro' – a Marriage made in Heaven – four online talks by Ian Page

posted on 19/06/2024


The Marriage of Figaro is widely considered to be the greatest opera ever written. Composed in 1786, it set to music a highly licentious play by Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais that had been written in pre-revolutionary Paris just eight years previously, and Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte had to promise the Viennese authorities that they were omitting all of the play’s controversial political content. Mozart, however, knew that a story could be told with more than words…

As he prepares for his next production of the opera – which will include a performance at the Teatro Comunale in Siracusa as part of MRT’s ‘Opera in Sicily’ Festival – conductor and Mozart specialist Ian Page presents a listeners’ guide in the form of four talks on the opera, one for each act. Placing the work in the context of Mozart’s own trajectory and the evolution of opera as an art form, the series will focus primarily on the composer’s extraordinary ability to communicate character, subtext, emotion and profound insights into the essence of the human condition.

Each talk will explore the choices that Mozart made in setting Da Ponte’s libretto, his approach to melody and harmony, his knowledge and understanding of the human voice, his use of the orchestra to reflect and underline the narrative, his gift for comedy and his consummate control of the narrative in what has been described as “this ultimate miracle of composition”.

They take place every Thursday from 5th–26th September at 4.30pm (London) and, including Q&A, will probably last just under an hour. They are available for viewing for eight weeks after the last episode is streamed (21st November 2024).

Register for the webinar series for £55

The talks

1. ACT ONE (5th September 2024)

From the famously effervescent bustle of the overture to Figaro’s iconic “Non più andrai” – the tune that Mozart heard being whistled in the streets of Prague – every number in the opening act of Le nozze di Figaro is prescribed to be played either fast or very fast. The music nevertheless has remarkable range and variety, and establishes the gossamer wit and intrigue that pervades the whole opera.

2. ACT TWO (12th September 2024)

The introduction of the forlorn, neglected Countess Almaviva brings a new pathos and emotional depth to proceedings, a mood which not even Cherubino dressing up as Susanna and jumping from an upstairs window can entirely dispel. The act culminates in an astonishing chain-finale where bursts of high-octane shenanigans alternate with suspenseful moments where time seems to stand still, and Mozart judges the dramatic pacing with unprecedented mastery.

3. ACT THREE (19th September 2024)

The third act incorporates great arias for both the Count and the Countess, in which they ultimately determine to overcome their obstacles, insecurities and frustrations. It also includes the ‘Letter Duet’ for the Countess and Susanna, which acquired newfound fame when featured in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, and the sextet in which the startling truth about Figaro’s parentage is revealed was a particular favourite of Mozart’s.

4. ACT FOUR (26th September 2024)

By the start of the final act Susanna and Figaro have married, but on their wedding night in the gardens of the Almaviva’s estate everything threatens to unravel. At the denouement, as the Count goes down on his knees to beg forgiveness from the Countess, Mozart’s music transforms what is a surprisingly perfunctory moment in Beaumarchais’ play into an event that can be seen as the apotheosis of the themes of empathy, forgiveness and redemption that run through the composer’s entire operatic output.

The speaker

Ian Page

Conductor and artistic director of The Mozartists, and is one of the leading Mozart interpreters of his generation. His visionary MOZART 250 project follows the chronological trajectory of the composer’s life, works and influences across 27 years, and his numerous recordings include the first seven releases in a projected complete cycle of the Mozart Operas. Twitter: @IanPageMozart | Website:

Register for the webinar series for £55

Frequently asked questions

What methods of payment do you accept?

An electronic invoice will be sent to your e-mail address 1–3 working days after you have completed our registration form. Payment can be made online using AMEX, Apple Pay, Google Pay, MasterCard or Visa.

How do I purchase the webinar series as a gift?

Please contact us specifying how many subscriptions you would like and who they are for (we require their full name and e-mail address). We will invoice you directly, and after we have received your payment we will release the webinar joining instructions to your friend(s) or family member(s).

Can I purchase a single episode?

No, unfortunately not. The series must be purchased in full.

How do I join the webinar?

An e-mail confirmation will be sent to you after you have paid for your subscription, which includes your unique link for joining the webinar. Reminder e-mails will be sent to you one day and one hour before each event. We recommend that you download the Zoom software in advance of the first webinar.

Can I watch the live broadcast(s) on more than one device?

Only one device can be connected to the live broadcast(s) at any one time. If you wish to purchase a second subscription, please contact us.

What happens if I am unable to attend the live broadcast(s)? 

A recording will be uploaded to a dedicated webpage approximately two hours after the live broadcast. For copyright reasons, these recordings cannot be made available indefinitely; access is granted for eight weeks after the final live broadcast of the series.

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